There was one reward the female contestants anticipated more than the trophies: cupcakes.
More than 300 audience members filled McLeod Theater for the final round of the 18th annual Mr. and Ms. SIU competition Saturday night. For the audience, the event was entertainment, but for the 19 competitors, it was a celebration of an end of an expensive, draining lifestyle - and a time to eat junk food.
Cupcakes awaited the female competitors after the show, while others made plans to chow down after months of vigilant dieting.
"It's an ending of all that hard work and effort. It's a celebration at the same time," said Clayton Cates, one of the four executive officers who organized the event.
Ryan Lott, a graduate student from Jerseyville studying exercise science, said he celebrated after the competition by going out to dinner with family and friends, and eating half of a pizza.
"You think, 'Oh, half a pizza, that's not a lot.' But when you're not used to eating that much at one time, it is," Lott said.
Several of the competitors said there's a lot more to being involved in the competition than people might assume.
Each contestant was allowed 60 seconds to pose for the judges.
"Having a competition that is a little more feminine looking is a lot more attractive," said Christina Weise, who won the women's division. "I would never do actual full blown bodybuilding."
Weise, a graduate student from Edwardsville studying behavioral analysis and therapy, said there are a lot of costs involved with these competitions. She said she spent money on tanning, oils, healthy food, competition suits, fingernails, toenails and exercise tapes to prepare for the competition. Though the competition was at a collegiate level, Wiese said she treated it as though it were a professional contest.
Training affects every aspect of a person's life, mental, physical and social, Lott said.
"It's like a second job how much time you spend. Not just exercising but preparing meals, and eating every two to three hours and all the grocery shopping," Lott said.
Alexxa Condon, a sophomore from Channahon studying political science and pre-law, said there's one piece of advice beginners need to keep in mind.
"Be patient. You'll see the results. Don't expect to see the results in the first month or two," said Condon.
Lott said he'd been training for the competition for about 14 weeks. On the women's side, Wiese said training began about six weeks ago.
Almost every day featured two workouts for the competitors, with each practice session running an hour and a half to three hours. Workouts included a mix of lifting weights and using cardio machines.
The SIUC Weightlifting club is considering making a calendar next year with photos of the competitors or members of their club, Cates said.
"I think it's a great idea, but paying for it up front and getting it all coordinated and printed, it'd be a good question if we could pull it off," Cates said.
The group is also looking into selling T-shirts to the audience members next year and is creating a DVD of Saturday's event.
Cates estimated the competition cost more than $2,000. Funds were raised through the $40 entry fee, the one-time $10 membership fee for the weightlifting club and sponsorships from Gold's Gym, Golden Corral and the Recreation Center Sports Shop.
"It was awesome. The thing for me that made it even better was the interaction between the competitors and the crowd. The crowd was amazing … I went to last year's show and it was nowhere close to that," Cates said.
Cates added it definitely helped to have the fraternities in the crowd because of how much they support each other.
"I just want to thank all the people that came," said Lott. "I'm sure everyone else wants to thank them as well. We appreciate their support."